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Americans Have No Desire for More Interventionism

The public understandably doesn't share the enthusiasm of foreign policy elites for U.S. "leadership" defined by endless war.

A new poll co-sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for the National Interest finds very little appetite for increased interventionism and even less confidence in U.S. foreign policy:

Only 25 per cent of Americans would like the next president to expand the role of the US military overseas, according to a poll that underlines the cautious mood of voters about foreign policy.

In the poll, only 14 per cent of respondents said US foreign policy had made the country more secure since 9/11, when it launched the more than 15 years of military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

These findings are consistent with other surveys that find scant support for an expanded U.S. role overseas. The public understandably doesn’t share the enthusiasm of foreign policy elites for U.S. “leadership” defined by endless war, multiplying commitments in more and more countries, and no obvious benefit to the United States. What I find worrisome is that there is still any constituency for an even more activist foreign policy after a decade and a half of serial failure.

There is very little support for deploying U.S. forces in Syria and Yemen, and substantial opposition to the former:

Among the respondents, 51 per cent said the US should not deploy ground troops to Syria, and 10 per cent said US troops should help Saudi Arabia in its military campaign in Yemen.

Americans clearly aren’t interested in deeper involvement in either of these wars. Unfortunately, Clinton is likely to be the next president, and she is committed to an expanded role in one and probably favors continuing U.S. support for the other.

Another interesting finding is that there is overwhelming backing for the idea that the president needs Congressional authorization before taking military action:

Eighty per cent per cent said the president should need Congressional approval for military action abroad.

It is encouraging that there is broad support for Congress’ constitutional role in deciding on whether the U.S. should go to war. This finding raises the obvious question: if 80% think this should happen, why are their representatives content to abdicate their role and why isn’t there more pressure on them to hold the executive accountable for unauthorized, illegal wars?

The good news from all this is that the constituency among voters for perpetual war is extremely small, as I would hope it would be. The bad news is that foreign policy elites in Washington are determined to ignore this.



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